CD Label: Insideout Music
In 2004, Kerry Livgren rejoined his old friend's in his pre-Kansas band Proto-Kaw. They took a roll of the dice with Before Became After, as Livgren says, and the response was incredible. In 2002 they dug in the archives and released Early Recordings From Kansas 1971-1973, which was Proto-Kaw, and that is what started the ball rolling. Now its two years later and they have returned triumphantly with yet another masterpiece called The Wait Of Glory.
I have been spinning this disc for two weeks solid now, listening for different nuances that I did not catch from the previous listen. It works that way with the interesting complex musical structures that Proto-Kaw offers. While I loved Before Became After, I think this album shows more maturity and cohesiveness as a unit. Although the first album was an experiment of sorts, it worked very well and I think this album is one-step better, although I could not imagine that prior to hearing this.
Livgren is one intense writer; he is a Christian on a mission to spread his word through some of the most intriguing and attention-grabbing music made today. This is as good as or better than anything that he did with Kansas. He writes about the excesses of man, his demise, and the dangers of the proliferation of his soul. It could be very dark music but it is not as each track has plenty of light and hope waiting on the other side. As they say, there are two sides to every story.
The emotional opening track "Nevermore" suggest that there is no more need to cry or die, it is what the Great Spirit has in store for us if we live right and seek the light. Lynn Meredith is a fantastic vocalist; he takes Livgren's lyrics and makes them come alive, although I cannot help but hear Steve Walsh at times, especially on "Old Number," I swear I heard Steve chime in with some background vocals, and on "Melicus Gladiator" he sounds very similar to Walsh as well. Meredith does a good job carving out his own territory as a vocalist and sounds original for a majority of the album, but just as on the first album, I cannot help but make that comparison and it is of course a high-level compliment from my viewpoint. The most moving and rich track for my listening was "When the Rains Come," the lyrics really touched my soul. Lines like "The rain will fall with life," give you hope and optimism for a better world.
Kerry Livgren is the consummate artist articulating his deepest thoughts and beliefs through his music, and there are few as prolific anywhere in the world. He could not have aligned himself with a better group of musicians. Some of the changes in the compositions you hear will make your head spin; take "Osvaldo's Groceries" for instance, which is the shortest running track on the album clocking in at just over 3 minutes. The band changes tempo at least 10 times during the course of the composition. This band's modus operandi is to keep you on your toes and listening for changes while intently focused on their lyrics. It requires deep introspection and multi-tasking listening abilities-there is no question about that.
I will say it now; this will easily be one of the top prog-rock albums of 2006. As Before Became After will go down as one of the prog-rock classics, The Wait Of Glory will make Proto-Kaw legends in their own time. This is not to be missed, another perfect 10.